AHPs

Association Health Plans are new plans that, by regulation, allow small businesses to band together across industries and state boundaries to form health insurance buying consortiums.  Using this larger size-generated buying power, they should be able to acquire cheaper, better tailored, more flexible plans for their employees, plans that those employees actually will want.

However.

The left says association plans are junk insurance that will blow up ObamaCare.

Some AHPs likely will be; that’s a fact of life in any market, free or centrally planned. However, a free market is self-regulating and quickly so; junk plans will be few and far between.  Blow up Obamacare?  That’s win-win.

Why Should There Be a Cap?

Scott Atlas wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal that all of us should have access to health savings accounts, instead of just the few well-off among us who can afford the high deductible health coverage plan that’s currently a prerequisite for having an HSA.  He also wants to raise the cap for contributing to one to $7,350 per year.

He’s on the right track, but he stopped short.  Why should there be a cap on HSA contributions?  Why can’t we contribute as much or as little as we want instead of what Government will permit?

Another Obamacare Episode

The Justice Department has declined to defend Obamacare in the suit against it brought by a large number of States in the aftermath of Congress’ repeal of the Individual Mandate penalty tax.  Recall that Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in 2012 to recreate the penalty as a tax in order to preserve the IM as constitutional, and thereby to preserve all of Obamacare as constitutional because of the inseverability of all parts of the law.

With the repeal of the IM’s…tax…that inseverability should doom the rest of Obamacare.

As a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision not to defend the law,

The Veterans Administration

…won’t clean up after itself.  In this instance, literally.  This is the VA “hospital” room a veteran was placed in when he went to that…facility…for treatment that involved 18 injections.  Injections to be done in a room as filthy as this.

Dr Karen Gribbin, the chief of staff at the George E Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, on Saturday reportedly said that Wilson should not have been in the room. She said the rooms should be cleaned prior to each patient and called on an investigation.

Wahlen is the imitation hospital at which this failure occurred.  The vetaran’s father, who posted the tweet, also tweeted

An Unintended Consequence

The health coverage plan providers, companies like Humana, Aetna, Anthem, et al., are gaming the Medicare system to keep their Medicare bonuses coming in.  Surprise.

It seems that when Obamacare was passed, it included a system of paying bonuses from Medicare to those plan providers that got sufficiently high ratings on the quality of their plans.

But wait….

Medicare ranks privately managed plans…on a five-star quality scale and provides financial bonuses to providers of top-ranked plans. [A plan-holder’s] plan was set to be downgraded, which would have cost Humana its bonus. So the company merged plans covering [the plan-holder] and more than a million others into different contracts with higher scores. That preserved the bonuses.

A New Insurance Plan

Idaho has one.  Blue Cross of Idaho says it’s going to take advantage of newly issued State regulations to start marketing a plan that won’t meet Obamacare requirements, and they’re going to sell the plan alongside its existing Obamacare-compliant plans.

The Idaho Department of Insurance last month became the first state regulator to say it would let insurers begin offering “state-based plans” for consumers that involved practices generally banned for individual insurance under the ACA, including tying premium rates to enrollees’ pre-existing health conditions.

In particular,

A New Welfare Trap

This one is in the offing at the State level, and comes as a result of the punitive tax for not buying health coverage was repealed last December.

At least nine states are considering their own versions of a requirement that residents must have health insurance….

And

Maryland lawmakers are pursuing a plan to replace the ACA mandate, which requires most people to pay a penalty if they don’t have coverage. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia, are publicly considering similar ideas.

Working for a Living

Indiana has joined Kentucky in getting approval to add a work requirement to its Medicaid program (separately: Federal approval should not be a requirement; the program should be a State-run and -funded program only).

Of course, there are objections.

Democrats and consumer groups are decrying the GOP push, saying it is antithetical to Medicaid’s goal of expanding health care.

It’s a Start

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been instructed by President Donald Trump to adjust its rules to allow the States to adjust their own rules to require work for Medicaid payments.

This is a very good start.  There are two remaining steps, though.  The funds transferred to the States in support of Medicaid need to be converted to block grants with no strings attached.  Each State knows its own medical support needs far better than does the Federal government.

The Veteran’s Choice Program

This is a program that would give veterans the option of going to a private sector doctor in lieu of playing the delay wait game at a Veterans Administration facility, after the veteran has jumped through the requisite VA hoops.  After a political tussle in Congress over increasing/renewing its funding, some additional money was provided.  That additional funding was necessitated because

its popularity depleted the allocated funds more quickly than anticipated. Patient visits through the program increased more than 30% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, according to the VA.